Agriculture Minister clears the air on Hope Canal project



hope-canal-0368[] – Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy today cleared the air on misconceptions that are being peddled in sections of the media and by some commentators with regards to the Hope Canal Project.

The Minister rubbished claims that the Agriculture Ministry has arbitrarily removed the construction of the sluice gates from the contract that was awarded to Courtney Benn Contracting Services.

According to the Minister, while the fabrication of the eight steel gates for the outer sluice of the Northern Relief Channel at Hope is part of the design, it was never part of the contract with Courtney Benn.

“We wanted the Courtney Benn construction company to focus on the building of the infrastructure that will house the gates. I want to make it clear that it was a separate contract from the very beginning,” Minister Ramsammy clarified.

That contract was tendered to the Guyana National Industrial Corporation (GNIC), which itself informed earlier of the completion of the fabrication of all eight gates. Those gates will be installed unto the structure of the outer sluice once the construction of that sluice is completed.

Agriculture Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy.
Agriculture Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy.

In terms of the Northern Relief Channel, the only outstanding aspect that is keeping it from operationalisation is the construction of the same outer sluice. As it stands, construction is in excess of 80 percent completed.

Minister Ramsammy said that if the contractor works normal hours every day, the remaining work should take about six weeks to be completed. In July, completion was anticipated by September month-end; however, a number of difficulties were encountered and the Ministry is now playing a more active role in the execution of the work.

“Some of the difficulties that the contractor has encountered can be resolved by the Ministry, and so all we are doing is working in partnership with the contractor so that those difficulties are removed. I expect that on Tuesday coming, work on site will be more diligent,” he said.

He noted that while the Ministry is frustrated by the sloth of the contractor, the difficulties are understood and appreciated. He also remarked that the question of liability and liquidated damages is not off the table.

The Ministry is working with the contractor with the view of increasing the working hours and number of days, so that construction will be completed between six to eight weeks. Earlier, Head of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), Lionel Wordsworth had indicated that the canal should become operational by year-end.

[Extracted and modified from GINA]




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